One year makes all the difference for Angola’s Ally Lorntz

Ally Lorntz has always been a basketball player.

Going back to grade school, Lorntz has been a constant on the court, playing for her school, club teams and AAU.

So when Lorntz stepped away from playing for Angola High School just a few games into her junior season last year, it was a truly difficult decision.

But for Lorntz, it was much needed.

“I just needed to step away for a bit,” said Lorntz, who averaged four points over two games last season. “It was a situation that I needed to get out of.”

Both Lorntz and Angola head basketball coach Brandon Appleton divulge little details about the situation, but you can put the pieces together. The combination of Appleton’s coaching style and Lorntz’s personality wasn’t meshing. There was a disconnect, one that had the potential to become toxic not just for the two of them, but an entire team, one that was having success on the court.

“I have never had a player quit in the middle of the season like that,” Appleton said. “It sure affected the both of us. It really made me do a lot of reflection as a coach to see what things you missed.

“It was quite a learning experience.”

For Lorntz, it was beyond tough. She did not want to feel as if she was abandoning her team, but something had to change.

For the Hornets, Lorntz was expected to be one of their more experience guards for the 2018-19 season. It left Appleton and the coaching staff scrambling to find someone to fill that role.

While some athletes (and parents) would quickly decide to transfer to another school for a better opportunity and a better relationship with the head coach, Lorntz admirably knew she wanted to make it work.

So did Appleton.

So last spring, after a few months apart, Lorntz and Appleton had a meeting. Everything was laid on the table, the expectations that Appleton had and what Lorntz wanted to get from her senior season.

“It was a good meeting, it was nice to kind of talk about everything that happened and how to move forward from it,” Lorntz said.

The two were able to work things out, but Lorntz did not want to return to the team without speaking to her teammates. Her class grew up playing basketball together, and with her set to come back as a senior, she was going to be looked upon to be a leader in the locker room and on the court.

Would she be able to command respect after walking away as a junior?

“I was super worried that they wouldn’t want me back, but everyone supported me,” Lorntz said. “It was great that they welcomed me back on the team.”

Lorntz has thrived as a senior for Angola. While her and Appleton continue to work on their dynamic, it is far from what it was a year ago. It is a perfect example of how each player needs to be coached differently.

Everyone has benefited, foremost Angola as a team, which enters Friday’s sectional semifinal against Concordia Lutheran with a 21-2 record. As for Lorntz, she is averaging 7 points and a team-leading 3.5 assists per game, the primary director of an offense that has multiple scoring threats.

“She has been wonderful this year,” said Appleton about Lorntz. “She has not changed much in terms of her playing ability. She has always been a steady hand for the team, not a lot gets her rattled. She has opened up more in practices now. You could tell the joy had left her before. There are a lot more moments of her smiling on the court.”

Lorntz does not regret stepping away, but is happy her prep career will end on the court instead of up in the stands.

“Everything worked out in the end,” Lorntz said. “It is great to be on this team with girls I grew up playing with and have so much success.”

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